The Carolina Panthers try to get back to the .500 mark on the season when they travel to face the Houston Texans on Sunday. Carolina is coming off its first win of the season, a dominating 38-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals last week. Houston has won two in a row, including last week’s 27-20 upset win on the road over the Chargers.
Cam Newton will not play in this one, but that may be a good thing, as Newton has shown signs of an injury when he has played this season, and backup Kyle Allen started last week and led the Panthers to victory. Carolina will need all the offense it can get against the Texans, who can be explosive, though they’re still working on consistency as an offense.
The moneyline for this contest has the Carolina Panthers +180 and the Houston Texans -210. Houston is favored by four points at home, while the over/under has been set at 47.5.
Solid Off The Bench
Allen made the second start of his career last week and finished with 261 yards and four touchdowns passing in the Panthers’ victory. He showed some arm strength that Newton has been unable to have this season, but, of course, those numbers did come against the Cardinals. Allen has weapons to throw to, including tight end Greg Olsen, who is back healthy and has caught 12 passes for 185 yards and two scores over the past two games.
Look for the Panthers to also try to establish the ground game with Christian McCaffrey. The third-year running back has rushed for 318 yards and three scores this season, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Houston’s pass rush could be trouble for Allen, so the Panthers want to make the Texans’ defensive front worry about defending the run to slow down their pass rush.
Still Not There
Deshaun Watson has been very good this season, passing for 778 yards and six touchdowns while connecting on 65.6 percent of his pass attempts. But, the Texans are only averaging 22.7 points, so the consistency just hasn’t been there for Watson and the offense. DeAndre Hopkins has been his usual No. 1 receiver self this season, catching 19 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns, but the Texans want to get Will Fuller going. He has 11 catches for 160 yards, but no scores, and his 14.5-yard average per catch is third on the team. For an outstanding deep threat with great speed, Fuller should have a bigger average per catch.
The Houston defense is one drive away from being unbeaten on the season, but a last-minute drive by the Saints in the season opener led to a game-winning field goal. The Texans have 10 sacks through three games, led by Whitney Mercilus’ four, and JJ Watt is still rounding into form, with just seven total tackles and two sacks.
Texans Get The Win
Carolina has a little more oomph to its offense with Allen under center, but it might not have the same kind of output against a Texans team that is allowing just 20.7 points per game. Houston is due for a breakout offensive game, and it wouldn’t surprise if they got it here at home. I’m taking Houston -4 to come away with a big win.